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Smart ways to make extra money

Could any of these money-makers help you earn more cash? 

21 September 2017
6 minute read

man counting coins

There are lots of ways that you can turn your talents into income. 

You’ve tightened your belt and saved where you can, but there’s no raise in sight and your hard-earned rands can’t stretch any further! It would be great to bring in some extra money, but how? We investigated some ideas for running a little business on the side.

Become a part-time masseuse If you are a people person and have an interest in healing, you could do a massage course and start doing massage therapy after hours or on the weekends. If you have a suitable room in your house, you won’t even have to rent a space. Or, if you buy a portable massage table, you can visit people at their homes.


Massage course: A beginner’s course in one style of massage costs around R4 000.

Massage bed: Starting at around R1 600 for a portable massage bed.

Oils: You can spend anywhere between R50 and R1 000 for massage oils.

Towels: You need around three or four per massage at R150 or R200 each.

Petrol, if you are traveling to people’s homes.

Make and sell your handicrafts You might have a talent for stained glass, doll making, dressmaking or leatherwork. If you can build up a small inventory, you could sell your wares at a market, to friends or even online. Do some research into what other people are charging for similar items, cost the materials you’ll need to get started, and work out whether the profits are worth the time you’ll spend creating your goods. Then get cracking.


Materials cost: these are too varied to put a figure to.

Renting a stall at a market: R300 to R1 000 per day, or even more, depending on the market.

Marketing: You can take photographs yourself and create a Facebook page, but depending on what you are selling, and where, it might be worth investing in web development and photography. This might cost a couple of thousand rands. You might also need fliers or business cards.

Cook and bake for your colleagues Do you have a knack for cupcakes? Can you whip up a killer curry? If your family and friends think you’re an excellent cook, chances are your colleagues and even perfect strangers will agree. What’s good about this option is that you can start small and cook to order, so there’s no wastage. Decide on a dish that is affordable and easy to cook in bulk and send an email around at work, offering to bring a portion in for takers on Fridays. Or let friends and colleagues know that you whip up cakes or cupcakes for birthday parties. Bring a sample platter for everyone at work to try. Once you have a following, ask your colleagues to let their friends know that you are taking orders.


You will need to work out the costs of your ingredients, and add enough of a markup to make a profit that justifies your time. A rough guideline is that you should charge around twice the cost of the ingredients, although this will vary depending on the dish and the quantity.

Remember that cooking and baking is a high-energy-usage activity, so also allow for increased electricity costs when you are working out your budget.

Become your friends’ go-to repairman If you have a knack for fixing things – be it homes, cars or computers – let your friends know that you can do any odd jobs or maintenance they may need done. You could even market your skills on your neighbourhood WhatsApp group. Just remember, only commit to what you can reasonably complete in your spare time – you don’t want to let people down - and do what you know you can do successfully.

Again, the costs of starting up a repair business are too varied to mention. If you are fixing computers, there are no overheads, and your only costs is the parts. If you are doing home or car repairs and maintenance, the investment in quality tools could be quite high. When you charge for your time, remember to charge for the maintenance of your equipment as well.

Babysit for families in your neighbourhoodThe right sort of person can make good money looking after children in their spare time. If you are reliable and like kids, then offer your services as the neighbourhood babysitter. Let your neighbours know and ask them to tell their friends, or use the local WhatsApp group or Facebook group to let people know you are available.

The great thing about babysitting is that there are no startup costs. You just need to show up on time. Of course, it helps if you have a car that can get you there – and if you are a real pro at looking after kids, you could bring along a crafting activity or game for them to play – but generally speaking, babysitting costs you nothing other than your time.

Rent your spare room or cottage out on Airbnb If you have extra space in your home, spruce it up, take some fancy photos and list it on Airbnb to earn some extra cash. If you price your room competitively, and you’re in a reasonable area, you might get a few bites a month. Obviously the more stylish you make the room, the higher the rates you can charge and the better your chances of attracting a guest. And the nice thing about Airbnb is that you can opt in or opt out at any time - so you only have guests when you feel like it. Before you start, check that there are no restrictions like zoning issues or body corporate rules that could interfere with your plans.

There are no costs in listing on Airbnb - they simply take 3% of your booking fee. You also aren’t obliged to provide any specific features or services to guests, but it is a good idea to buy a dedicated set of linen (R500 to R1000) and towels (R200 each) for the guest room.

Use your professional skills outside of the office If you are an administrator, a bookkeeper or an editor, or work in any profession with marketable skills, offer your after-hours services to friends and neighbours to earn a little more money. You’ll probably find that you can do the extra work in your sleep, and that a change from your normal routine is as good as a holiday - even if you’re doing the same work. And of course, since this is a professional skill you’re selling, you could earn some nice extra money.

As long as you have a computer with the relevant software at home, working after hours should cost you nothing but time.

Make a plan and get earning If you’re serious about earning some extra money, look at your skills and how much free time you have, then make a plan to make it happen for yourself. Once you’ve made a start, you can use these tips to take your business a little further. Who knows? Your little earner on the side could grow into a full-time job or a retirement plan. All you have to do is take the first step.

All prices are averages for goods and materials available in South Africa. Final prices may vary.

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